Donating Archives or Objects to Collections

Model of the Mormacyork freighter with a grey hull, mounted on a blue board
Model of the Moore-McCormack Line freighter Mormacyork (SAFR 1599)

NPS photo


Thank you for considering San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park as a potential recipient for your donation. Whether or not your donation is best suited at our institution, we sincerely appreciate your consideration. When considering the Park for your donation, the following information may be of use to you. (Interested in donating only library books? Please see information about donating library materials in our FAQ.)

About the Collection
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park collects, preserves, and interprets the material resources, traditions, and achievements of seafaring Americans particular to Pacific Coast maritime cultural heritage.

The Park has earned accreditation status from the American Alliance of Museums, a widely recognized seal of approval that brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement.

The significance of the Park derives primarily from its collections that represent marine, labor, and shore-based trades and services, and the personal effects of individuals from the maritime community. The museum collection includes art, artifacts, and small water craft. The archival collection includes photographs, oral histories, vessel plans, business records, and personal papers.


How do I donate materials to the archives or museum collection?
If you have artifacts or documents that you believe would complement the Park's collection, please review the information below then contact us by email to or by post to:
Collections Manager
SF Maritime NHP Research Center
2 Marina Blvd., Fort Mason Center, Bldg. E
San Francisco, CA 94123
To assist us in our review of your donation offer, we would appreciate you being prepared to fully describe your proposed donation and include information about its size, condition, and history. The more information you provide, the better we can evaluate your item(s). Please send us photographs or photocopies of the materials, if possible; images that capture key features or document the condition of the item(s) will help the curatorial staff evaluate donation offers.


Can I mail or drop off a donation?
The Park does not accept unsolicited donations through the mail or in person without prior communication. Items mailed or dropped off at the Park without receiving a formal Temporary Custody Receipt will be considered abandoned property in accordance with 36 CFR 2.22 and subject to disposition including disposal as set forth therein at the sole discretion of the National Park Service.


How are potential donations reviewed?
Donation offers are reviewed by the Park's Museum Acquisitions Committee. The Committee members are staff who are subject-matter experts in maritime history, the scope of the Park's museum collection, and preservation issues associated with artifact and document care.

The Committee uses the criteria specified in the Park's Scope of Collections, as well as its current cataloging goals, to guide its decisions. It also takes into consideration the condition of the object and the availability of resources required to store and care properly for the artifact or document as well as cataloging the material to make it accessible. The sensitive nature of materials or ownership of copyrights may also factor into the acquisitions decisions.


How long does it take for the Park to review proposed donations?
Typically, the process takes about one month. If your proposed donation is accepted by the Acquisitions Committee, you will be contacted by a Collections staff member to arrange to have the donated materials shipped, picked up, or dropped off at the Park. After physical custody, the final step is to have the Park issue a Deed of Gift for the donation, which legally transfers the property to the National Park Service.


Will the Park appraise my donation for its monetary value?
The Park can not provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials proposed for donation or for any other reason. However, professional appraisers can perform this service for a fee. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, you may wish to contact one of the following organizations for a referral:


Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?
The National Park Service is part of the United States federal government. To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, it is recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the Internal Revenue Service. You may also wish to consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.


Will the Park exhibit the artifacts or documents in my donation?
The Park can not guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited unless expressly collected for that purpose. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. However, all items can be made accessible for research purposes through the Maritime Research Center.


Does the Park accept long-term loans?
The Park does not accept long-term loans. While it does accept loan materials on a short-term basis in conjunction with exhibitions and other programs, the Park prefers to commit its resources to the storage and preservation of materials in its permanent collection.

Last updated: February 9, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2 Marina Boulevard, Building E, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94123


(415) 561-7000
The public information office is open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. PST during weekdays and we will respond to all messages within two business days.

Contact Us